Editor’s Blog: Consumers are stuck with a patchwork of regulations on CBD and THC in food

KANSAS CITY, MO. – There is consensus across the food and beverage industry that the markets for cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) hold significant promise if approved for use as ingredients in pharmaceutical applications. Food and Drug Administration. Until then, many consumers must deal with state-by-state laws and regulatory programs that can put consumers and brands owned by consumer packaged goods companies at risk.

The number of companies selling products containing CBD and THC where legal is growing, and neither state regulators nor the FDA currently have the resources to fully regulate the category. That’s not to say efforts aren’t underway.

On May 4, the FDA sent warning letters to five companies selling products containing CBD and THC. All of the letters stated that the companies’ products were unapproved new drugs sold in violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Products ranged from chocolate, honey and coffee to gummies, tinctures, capsules, ointments, lotions and hand sanitizers. Even several pet products, including CBD pet oil tincture and CBD pet treats, have also been found to violate federal food, drug, and cosmetic law. .

“The FDA is very concerned about the growing popularity of delta-8 THC products being sold online and in stores nationwide,” said Janet Woodcock, MD, senior deputy commissioner of the FDA. “These products often include claims that they treat or reduce side effects related to a wide variety of diseases or medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, nausea and anxiety.”

The way some products containing CBD and THC are packaged in a way that may appeal to children adds to concern, Dr Woodcock said.

“We will continue to protect the health and safety of Americans by monitoring the marketplace and taking action when companies illegally sell products that pose a risk to public health,” she said.

Marketing these products using child-appealing packaging is an issue that has caught the attention of the Consumer Brands Association and member companies like Kellogg Co.; Mondelez International, Inc.; PepsiCo, Inc.; and Post Holdings, Inc. The FDA reported 2,362 cases of THC exposure from January 1, 2021 through February 28, 2022. Of these, 41% of exposures were to pediatric patients and 82% of unintentional exposures were to children .

Using packaging and logos similar to well-known brands like Cheetos, Oreo, Trix and others, according to the ABC, leads to exposure. Food and beverage brand owners are calling for language to be added to legislation currently pending in the House and Senate that would prevent the use of logos/packaging popular with children.

State laws that have allowed the development and proliferation of products containing CBD and THC have created a patchwork of regulations that vary widely. While it is clear that such regulations are positive, some manufacturers are taking advantage of the state-by-state confusion to manufacture copycat products that may be marketed using unsubstantiated claims. Congress attempted to pass bipartisan legislation to nationalize the regulation of these products. With this legislation stalled, it is imperative that Congress do what is necessary to protect consumers, especially children.